Public Radio Starts Six-Part Series on Intersection of Education and Juvenile Justice

The Tavis Smiley Show – the radio version of it – will begin a six-part series entitled “Education Under Arrest” today. For listings on airtime, or find the recording, click here.

The series actually started with an episode on Smiley’s television show, on PBS. Click here to watch that.

Education Under Arrest is one of the most emotional pieces of work I’ve ever done,” said Smiley in a press release about the series. “The criminalization of our youth is a national tragedy, and I look forward to introducing fellow citizens to the individuals and organizations on the frontlines of the fight to save our children.”

The interplay between school discipline and law enforcement is actually two separate issues: the extent to which police and the courts are used by schools to handle actions on school grounds, and the extent to which youths who are suspended or expelled end up getting arrested.

Both have long concerned child advocates, and a 2011 report about school discipline in Texas breathed life into the issue. The report found a heavy reliance on long suspensions and expulsions, particularly for African-American students.

Youth Services Insider can say having been there when he was briefed on it, Attorney General Eric Holder was genuinely floored by the numbers.

Not too many details in the press release on how the series would proceed, other than that it would air every Friday and that the first guest would be David Utter. That’s a good start: Utter has started more trouble with states on behalf of how kids are treated than anyone YSI can recall.

The series is funded in part by W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Smiley’s show gets general support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Casey is currently expanding its work on juvenile justice from reform of pre-trial detention practices to incarceration.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.